The cast

Oral histories



'Sunny's just an ordinary girl - who's just shot into the charts'
by Michael Benton
from Disc, 20 April 1974

'I'm not hip or exotic although I've got nothing against that. I'm just an ordinary girl with an ordinary life and that's just how I want things to stay,' confessed Sunny, when we met in her Top of the Pops dressing room last week.

Being in the charts, playing TOTP etc aren't new to Sunny. She's been through the lot, but today's visit is different from most. For the first time in her long career, Sunny's got her very own record in the charts. In the past she's either been there as a backing singer or with her big sister, Sue, as Sue and Sunny.

'I cut my first record when I was 12. It was called 'Just Let Me Cry' and was released by Oriole Records. Then when I was 15, I teamed up with my sister, and turned professional. Our work in those days consisted of cabaret dates, but after three years of doing them, we both realized they were too old for us - the audiences.

'We went to Germany to play the airforce bases, only this time we put on a more girlish act. But once again we felt the work wasn't right. We had to sing all the old standards and they didn't really suit a couple of teenagers. We felt trapped. We decided to come back to London.'

Both felt dispirited by their lack of success, especially after four years in the business. Little did they know at that time their lucky break was just around the corner.

'One day we got a call from Lesley Duncan who asked us if we'd help her do a session. She was absolutely desperate so we agreed. Anyway the session went really well and things materialised from there.'

During the course of the next few years, Sue and Sunny found themselves backing artists like Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Lulu, Love Affair, Mott the Hoople and Elton John - just to mention a few. Then ...

'We were asked if we'd like to back Joe Cocker. It really flipped me because I had always admired him, not only for his singing but for the tremendous amount of effort he puts into everything he does.

'Needless to say, we agreed and found ourselves recording 'With A Little Help From My Friends'. I can't tell you how I feel about Joe now,' explained Sunny, the expression on her face turning into genuine sadness.

That single did much to help Sue and Sunny's career. The single shot to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Cocker's career escalated into the realms of superstardom and hard tours followed.

His great American tour was the Mad Dogs And Englishmen escapade, which had everyone who was vaguely connected with the entourage tagging along. It really was more of a travelling circus, but the concept was a lovely and successful one.

'I really wanted to do that tour,' confessed Sunny. 'But it was such a long one that Sue and myself knew we'd have a hard time keeping up the pace.

'Anyway, Sue and I found ourselves recording on our own and we had a couple of singles put out. But nothing really happened for us. Now I'm hoping that things are going to happen for me.

'The single's in the charts and I'm pretty excited about it, but I'm past all the glamour and dreaming stage. I've had so many disappointments in the past.'

I asked Sunny how she'd come to record 'Doctor's Orders' and why Sue was nowhere in sight.

'As you might remember, I was also in a group called The Brotherhood of Man which had a hit with 'United We Stand'. Everyone in that group had his own thing going for him and eventually it just folded. Sue decided she wanted to spend some time having babies, so I was just left to get on with things by myself.

'Roger Cook knew that I was going solo and rang me up to say that he had a song for me. Anyway, I went round to see him, heard the song and thought it might do something. I wasn't sure because I'd chosen songs in the past and they'd flopped.

'I recorded it last November and wrote the flip 'It's Only When You're Lonely'. You know I'm crazy about lyrics and lady singers, especially people like Billie Holliday, Nancy Wilson, Streisand and Diana Ross.'


Sunny is a lovely lady. Warm and friendly towards everybody she meets. Her friends are mainly music people and there are many, but what of her private life?

'I'm married and I have to confess that it's hard combining the two. But I told my husband before I married him that he mustn't try to stop my career. I'd love to have some babies later.

'This is my big effort. My last good try at making it on my own. I always felt a little envious when artists that I've backed for their records in the charts and I was left in the background. It's nice to get some credit for what you're doing. I've always wished it would happen to me and now it has. It's a dream come true. Now I think there's a chance of going out on the road with a small band. No one-night stands, mind you, because I couldn't take them again.'

The future looks sunny for Sunny. Time is her only problem. She hasn't enough of it. 'Solo success is going to cut down my session work, but you can't have everything.'

Without doubt the background lady has directed her feet to the Sunny side of the showbiz street.

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